Results of Minn. Senate race to be undecided until '09

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

ST. PAUL, Minn. -- Minnesota voters won't know who won the state's U.S. Senate race this year, and it's looking more likely the new Congress will be sworn in before the race ends between Democrat Al Franken and Republican incumbent Norm Coleman.

The state Canvassing Board on Tuesday scheduled a Jan. 5 meeting and its chairman said the panel's work could spill into Jan. 6 -- the day the next Congress convenes.

Democrat Al Franken leads Republican Sen. Norm Coleman with an small number of ballots yet to consider. Franken finished the day ahead by 47 votes, according to a preliminary report by the secretary of state's office.

For the second time in two weeks, the state Supreme Court got involved in the election, this time hearing arguments over ballots Coleman's campaign claims were double counted.

Secretary of State Mark Ritchie said there is no way the board will certify a winner this year.

"We are not in any way guided by any Washington consideration, timeline," said Ritchie, a Democrat. "These folks have people's lives in their hands."

The board will meet Tuesday to consider the allocation report.

The race was thrown into overtime because Coleman led Franken by a mere 215 votes after the Nov. 4 count of about 2.9 million ballots. That was well within the automatic recount law triggered when races are within one half of one percentage point.

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